Tag: vacation

Moose, Moleskin & Bison

Are you someone who does this? Do you keep an idea file for photographs you’d like to try?  I’ve found myself doing this at times when travel cannot afford the time to stop and snap a few photos.  At other times, I will realize that the subject of a shot works but that the conditions may not work ideally.  And, if I’m lucky I’ll be able to ask my daughter to write down a note in a moleskin notebook while we drive about location and subject and particulars;  the moleskin stays in the vehicle and I can refer back to it. Wildlife photographer, Moose Peterson in an interview on Shutter Time with Sid and Mac (Sidney Blake and Maciek Sokulski) spoke of being encouraged to keep an idea file for photographs and to revisit the file and plan for opportunities to make the shot or shots happen. The bison at Elk Island National Park (east of Edmonton, Alberta) are subject for one set of photographs found here.   The bison have been a part of my idea file since I’ve been listening to Sid and Mac’s exploits in repeated and regular photo sessions at the park.  For me, in terms of the camera work the learning is about shutter speed.  Within the golden hour of sunlight and with the continual movement of the bison in their grazing there is a need for a faster shutter speed in terms of capturing crisp images.

The issue I am grappling with when traveling is that I will often be days or weeks from my photos before I can edit and see images.  I am still considering the value of a laptop from the perspective of allowing greater immediacy of editing while traveling.  There is learning to be derived from the editing process and it may be that working with a laptop with different subjects will foster good results in second or third visits/photo sessions.

The remaining pictures are catch-all – images that have been kicking around, interesting to look at;  the vintage late 30’s sedan, the T-bird and the late sixties Dodge Dart were parked outside Ricky’s All Day Grill and are the work of one person.  Imagine being able to say to two of your best buddies, “Hey let’s take a few of my cars for a spin,” and then take them out to breakfast.  Cool!  Beyond these, there are other renderings of the fifties one-ton truck, a rusting relic.

Listening to – John Mayer’s Queen of California, a song reminding of the Doobie Brothers back in the seventies.

Quote to Inspire – “All photographs are memento mori.  To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability.  Precisely be slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time relentless melt.” – Susan Sontag

Reflection – Rain-soaked and Waxless

One Ton Truck - Edmonton, Alberta

One Ton Truck – Edmonton, Alberta

Of the renderings considered, this image of the one ton grain truck (or perhaps utility truck) from the fifties intrigues by way of its waxless reflection brought out by its being rain soaked.  The image’s colours are late summer’s end-of-day colours.  Night isn’t too far off, the shot taken within evening’s Golden Hour in Edmonton.  John Grisham wrote A Painted House, a growing up novel written about a boy’s witnessing America’s move from the farm (a cotton plantation) to its cities in America’s fifties; this is the kind of truck that might have been found within Grisham’s narrative.  I hadn’t thought his narrative (as autobiographical as it is) might be considered sibling narrative to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road until now.

Listening to – what is seemingly a rural truck reminds of Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.

Quote to Inspire – “The goal is not to change your subjects, but for the subject to change the photographer.” – Anonymous

Carpe Diem, Conundrum & Mosquitos

Conundrum – how to manage a photo-a-day blog when away from home, computer, software and the Internet. Is it a matter of taking a computer with you? Or is it about caching photos taken during vacation for presentation later on, in look-back fashion? I’m only now sitting down at my computer to review photos, some three weeks later to discover this present gem of an image, a one-ton, late fifties truck that pops noticeably because of the wet reflective surface provided courtesy of the rain. Reflection is a neat thing for adding light to a subject and in so doing, highlighting the subject’s lines and shape. Here, an extraordinary combination of clouds, sun and rain at day’s end allows the opportunity to explore textures, shape, reflection and background. In taking this photo, there was the scramble to the scene (a reasonable distance) in order to make use of the setting, light and background.  And, in this same scene while there has been that aspect of Carpe Diem, there too were the mosquitos within the wet, warm weather to contend with. But, a gem is a gem and I like each of the four renderings of this photo.

In truth, though, it has been hard to sit still at day’s end, the household asleep and to find that I’m awake without the tools for editing photos, writing a post and blogging. The issue is about workflow and what I really value doing with my/our time on vacation.  Photography is intended to assist vacation recall … not what the vacation should be about. Next year, perhaps a laptop … perhaps not.  Perhaps focus will remain on enjoying and capturing our vacation with my camera.

I haven’t withdrawn from my blog so much as I’ve been presented with the separation of vacation from the routines of daily life – sort of a forced withdrawal that’s likely to bring benefits with regard to energy and perspective.

Listening to – Shawn Colvin’s All Fall Down.

Quote to Inspire – “A photograph is a moral decision taken in one eighth of a second.” – Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet

Rapture – Drinking in the Sun’s Heat

Early morning, time to cross-off items from my ‘did-I-do-it’ list, time to muster to the morning’s endeavor – planting Saskatoon bushes in our backyard. I gather shovel, axe, wheel barrow and raise my eyes to gaze upon a dragonfly sunning itself, drinking in sun’s early morning heat. The dragonfly doesn’t move.  Rapturous in sun’s warmth, it allows me time to retrieve my camera, attach macro lens and gather images. When I move to look down the fence board to the dragonfly from above, the dragonfly having had enough parts company, flying off. This intriguing moment with camera and subject was one that recalls and reinforces the joy of discovery and pursuit within photography. Taking the moment further I photographed ripening raspberries in still life.

Listening to – The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again, the Donnie Darko version of Tears for Fears’ Mad World, The Who’s Boris the Spider, Walter Trout’s Blues for the Modern Daze, Shawn Colvin’s American Jerusalem, I Don’t Know You and The Neon Lights of the Saints.

Quotes to Inspire – (1) “Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.” – Diane Arbus; and, (2) “If I were just curious, it would be very hard to say to someone, ‘I want to come to your house and have you talk to me and tell me the story of your life.’ I mean people are going to say, ‘You’re crazy.’ Plus they’re going to keep mighty guarded. But the camera is a kind of license. A lot of people, they want to be paid that much attention and that’s a reasonable kind of attention to be paid.” – Diane Arbus – remarks made in class, 1971, Diane Arbus : An Aperture Monograph by Diane Arbus, Stan Grossfeld (3) “Beauty is the illumination of your soul.” – John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Perseverance Required

Muddied Mudder

Muddied Mudder

This morning’s wee hours saw the completion of two day’s detailing our 2006 Nissan Altima, a task completed without anchored schedule and with all that time off. The task first involved trekking around the Altima with Autoglym Super Resin Polish with orbital buffer and polishing bonnet or buffer and buffing bonnet. The task next involved applying by hand Autoglym HD Wax, a paste wax, in sections and letting those sections cure for fifteen minutes at a stretch. In applying the HD paste wax I caught myself up on several podcasts.

Storing digital images was the subject of one podcast of Shuttertime with Sid and Mac;  I’m in need of a new external hard drive and need to investigate back-up solutions.  The podcast introduced me to Drobo and to Carbon Copy Cloning and much more. In another Shuttertime with Sid and Mac podcast the ‘why’ of the photographer – her or his motivation for shooting – was considered. A truth that surfaced is that good photography is something that serves the photographer first before her or his audience. It was noted that photographer burnout (meaning their interest or desire in photography is extinguished) occurs when the images created tend to be ‘for’ others. Ideally a photographer needs to manage the balance of work for others with work for themselves.

Two days detailing allowed for breaks when they were needed. Tuesday evening presented the opportunity of summer’s quietude along our street.  Near midnight I was able to sit outdoors in the sun’s dusk, in the absence of activity and mosquitos to enjoy an evening breeze – a time to be, a time to sit still and enjoy. Within these two days I’ve been able to watch at various times most of the 2010 film of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, an allegory of spiritual development and of finding soul mates. Wax on, wax off – words from the Karate Kid, words akin to meditation, an activity slowing you down, a means to gather thoughts and loose-ends; the activity involves sight and seeing and perspective; section by section the activity moves toward the whole of an outcome completed. Perseverance is required – you and the car are better for it.

The photograph presented here is the first rendering of an image using the Snapseed app with my iPad – a truck that’s been used for mud-bogging.

Listening to – Over the Rhine’s Spark, Dar Williams’ Mercy of the Fallen and Radiohead’s High and Dry; the other song that’s been in my thoughts and hearing is Robbie Robertson’s Sweet Fire of Love.

Quotes to Inspire – (1) “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.” – Diane Arbus; and, (2) “To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.” – Ansel Adams

ATTO – All That Time Off

Our school year is complete.  Mandated and extracurricular tasks and obligations have been seen through to good conclusion. I continue to be amazed at all the work all teachers engage in in moving students onward in their academic learning as these same students move into, through and from of the hormone jungle. Our final days at school have been about pushing through, getting what needs done, done and sharing in celebration and play with students.

Our year-end school riot, outdoors, held so much fun – a supremely significant high point to the year – water pistols, pies in the face (for staff and students), izzy-dizzy, wet/slippery tug-of-war, shin cracker, fire engine pull, music and more music and most fun was the make-shift water slide (a rubber 100’ x 50’ tarp with fire truck pumper and two fire hoses soaking students and staff in summer sun); staff and students shared laughter and smiles abundantly … what an extraordinary day! Stats on the Animoto of the event are sitting at 180+ viewings within one week – our year-end riot was a hit and definitely memorable.

Beyond the riot, the final days were about pushing through, getting year-end tasks done; then, there was a sacred congregational task to be completed last Sunday at Hutch Lake, Alberta. Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis also wrote a book about his teaching life in New York City.  In his book, Teacher Man, he references the acronym ATTO, meant to mean ‘all that time off’ that non-teachers look at as the perk to teaching and as something perhaps as an ill-gotten-gain. The reality is that there really is all that time off.  But, for me and any other teacher the time is something used to catch one’s breath mentally and physically. It’s a time to move the teacher’s self from back burner interest and to step out and seize hold of Life and to breathe Life into interests, intentions, goals and endeavors.

The house that needs fixing, the taxes that need submission, the mail that needs opening … all those things that have been put off so that a rich school year may be had by students – these are the things that now must get done. Yesterday, summer’s reward was there.  On his Soul Surmise website, Steve Stockman (Stocki) provided the world with his top ten album picks for the first half of 2012. The reward specific – Stocki pointed me to Matthew Perryman Jones and his Land of the Living album, intelligent, well-crafted lyrics with a voice richly reminiscent of David Gray; truly manna.

The photographs presented here are ones taken on a drive northward from High Level, Alberta towards the Alexandra Falls just on the other side of the Northwest Territories border. I had freed myself for an afternoon and got into the car with my Canon 60D. Most shots are macro shots of colour amongst greenery.  Two shots are photos of the aftermath of a forest fire that had raged on North of us a few weeks before.

Listening to – Matthew Perryman Jones’ Land of the Living album – The Angels Were Singing, Cancion de la Noche and I Won’t Let You Down Again;  the melody from Stones From the Riverbed catches my interest.

Quote to Inspire – “Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.” – Matt Hardy

Midnight Sun – Checkmark

18 June 2012 – 11:30 p.m..  The land of the midnight sun still lights the world in half-light in the moments before it crosses the horizon to create dusk. West – a tumultuous sky billows its clouds in heavy, obscure shapes poised to wet the earth with only a nudge. East – there’s greater interplay and drama between dark, heavy shapes and bright, bread-white clouds catching sun’s light. It’s day’s end as I gather these photographs remnants of a beautiful day. There’s a checkmark shape of lamp posts caught in parking lot puddle mirrors – too many hours being a teacher today.

Listening to – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s In Like a Rose, The Black Keys When the Lights Go Out, Radiohead’s Go to Sleep, Ryan Adams’ Starting to Hurt and Pete Yorn’s Pass Me By.

Quote to Inspire – “Which of my photographs is my favourite?  The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” – Imogen Cunningham

Makeshift Autoyard

Charles Dickens once wrote a novel about an Old Curiosity Shop, a shop much like that of current second-hand stores or thrift stores in which a store owner collects collectibles, curiosities that satisfy our need to discover things that fit the environment we wish to create for our lives. Tonight, day-long, spring snow flurries bring about a look-back through photos. This photograph surfaced as one provoking the curiosities that rusting relics are at that point before restoration in which appraisal and consideration of possibility occurs – questions stir about what needs done, what the vehicle can become, what it will be like to drive and who will drive it.  Possibility is leveraged as much by reminiscence as by future anticipation. Something of this imaginative aspect regarding a curiosity to be purchased is what Dickens explores in his novel The Olde Curiosity Shop – the nature of how we choose what we will put into our lives. Rusting relics in this rag-tag, makeshift auto-yard have me wondering about the curiosity that these older vehicles hold and highlight the necessity of imagination in investigating the possibility of what any of these vehicles can become. For me, the teal blue 1959 or 1960 Chevrolet reminds of a car that my grandfather drove when I was three or four.  I can only recall being transported in this vehicle two or three times in and around Edmonton and then back to their home on Strathearn Drive – a memory that requires some reaching back.

Listening to – Snow Patrol’s Lifeboats, Radiohead’s High and Dry, Coldplay’s Don’t Panic and Kings of Leon’s Closer; the song that’s been on my mind throughout the post has been The Tragically Hip’s As Makeshift As We Are.

Quotes to Inspire – (1) “Photography can only represent the present. Once photographed, the subject becomes part of the past.” – Bernice Abbott (2) “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.” – Diane Arbus

325 – 152nd Street East, Tacoma, Washington

One of the bigger treats for me in visiting Seattle, Washington this Easter was something my wife and daughter allowed me to do on the Thursday before we returned to Canada, something that they joined me in. That Thursday morning, we drove from Seattle an hour south to Tacoma and using our TomTom GPS were able to navigate to 325 – 152nd Street East to arrive at the LeMay Car Collection/Museum at Marymount.

Imagine a former convent/school resurrected to become storage and showing site for the LeMay collection of cars and trucks, vehicles of the last one hundred years. At the museum, a docent will lead you through each collecting point on the Marymount property. Not only do rusting relics inhabit these spaces, but you also find that the majority of vehicles within these confines will have received restoration or would have been kept in their original pristine condition throughout their years. Beyond this, imagine that your docent has heart and understands well your connection to cars and knows each car’s history intimately. He’s able to tell you all that you didn’t know about each car. Our docent, Mr. Pierce, led us, this way and that, through the maze of cars parked end to end in each of three buildings, a means to house them all. He was introducing each car to us – what the car was about practically, what had been each automaker’s intentions for the vehicle conceptually and how the car came to reside within the LeMay collection.

And, Mr. Pierce allowed me a kind of grace that only a fellow gear-head would ever let you have … he allowed time to photograph the vehicles and for that I will be forever grateful. At two hours in to my tour my wife went to be with my daughter out in our rental car while I rounded off the tour with Mr. Pierce looking up close at some of the first-ever self-propelled vehicles to transport people around the Americas. In terms of next steps, I’m considering becoming a member at the LeMay museum – they may be able to make use of this old-time car jockey who used to dust and polish cars at Edmonton’s Waterloo Mercury.

Listening to – U2’s Magnificent, Coldplay’s Yes and Radiohead’s All I Need.  In terms of audiobooks, the last two morning walks have been a listen through D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover; it’s been more than a couple of year’s since I’ve been through the book and this audio-recording has a good reader –  Maxine Peake.

Quote to Inspire – “Photography does not create eternity, as art does; it embalms time, rescuing it simply from its proper corruption.” – Andre Bazin (1918-1958), French film critic.

Broad Strokes – Three Dimensions

Visually, Seattle clusters in broad strokes among three dimensions. There’s the up and down of tall, tall buildings. There’s the Seattle you find more of to your right and to your left, more buildings, more streets, more sidewalks. Seattle extends in front of you, behind you and way over in every direction – bridges curve with the landscape and cross huge expanses of land and water. Seattle is a walker’s city. Distances around the city core are manageable walking distances. Navigating the downtown core is straightforward. The terrain offers up and down, a good walker’s workout. And, fresh air blows up from the ocean through the city. Movie-wise I recognized the city watching an eighty’s movie only last weekend; Seattle is the setting within the movie, An Officer and A Gentleman. And, during our time in Seattle, we were able to see the Lake Union lake cottage set of the house used by Tom Hanks’ character in the movie Sleepless in Seattle; we’d taken the Ducks’ tour and saw many of Seattle’s highlights. The Seattle night photos remind much of U2’s music video presentation of their album No Line on the Horizon and specifically to City of Blinding Lights, a reference more directly referring to Paris, France; the appellation could just as easily refer to the Seattle that I’ve seen at night.

Listening to a preview of Jack White’s Blunderbuss album; it’s holding true to Jack White sound; it’s good and it’s fresh Jack White.

Quote to Inspire – “There will be times when you will be in the field without a camera.  And, you will see the most glorious sunset or the most beautiful scene that you have ever witnessed.  Don’t be bitter because you can’t record it. Sit down, drink it in, and enjoy it for what it is!” – Degriff

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